Bravo's Top Chef is heading to Kentucky when Season 16 premieres Thursday, December 6 at 9/8c. And if you're wondering "what the hell" is behind the decision on the filming location, you're going to be very — very — pleasantly surprised.
"Oh man, Kentucky is an awesome season," producer-director Dan Cutforth told The Feast recently when we caught up with him in NYC. "Let’s see, what can I tell you about Kentucky? It’s a spectacularly beautiful state and there are so many really interesting challenges that we were able to do. IIt’s interesting, this group of chefs were really kind of close in ability and they’re really talented, and it’s a horse race. I mean, I don’t mean that as a joke — but I do mean it, appropriately enough. With Kentucky, it really is a horse race this season! There are all these wonderful stories that we’re telling."
Sure, but what kind of "wonderful stories" of the behind-the-scenes variety did Cutforth have to share with Top Chef fans?
Well, consider this: "I’ll tell you the other thing about Kentucky," he revealed. "It was the craziest cast house I have ever seen. We found this mansion that used to belong to a bourbon baron that had been sold and was about to be updated and it’s like this crazy '80s Falcon Crest mansion with amazing decor and some bathrooms and things I hope they keep because they’re completely insane."
And the lodging also offered a first-of-its kind option for chefs. "It also has these beautiful grounds — it looked like a country club or something, so the chefs got to have their own garden this season for the first time, which is really cool," Cutforth told us. "I’m excited for people to see Kentucky, for sure."
Of course, he's not the only one.
"It was a great season," Tom Colicchio told The Feast recently. "It was actually one of my favorites — and partly because I think the contestants were really strong and they didn’t seem to be hiding much. They were pretty much who they were, and they didn’t try to front. They weren’t trying to play roles — and it was a lot of fun to watch them cook."
That's high praise — but it's not just the cheftestants but the judges who are "100 authentic" in their TV personalities.
—Reporting by Laura Rosenfeld
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